So there I am, sitting at my desk with a pencil in hand. I begin to draw. I draw a Thing, but it looks familiar. So I draw another and another. Everything I draw feels like I’ve done it before.
So that’s it. I’ve done it. I’ve drawn everything there is to draw. There’s nothing more I can do.
I’ve never been one to express my life through art. My inspiration comes from what I see and wonder about, not from emotion or circumstance. So if at times I find that I’m repeating myself in my work, I have to go somewhere else.
Art is about looking. If I’m in a place where I’m too familiar with my environment, I’m not looking — I’m knowing! Imagine only talking about what you know all the time. Nobody is going to listen to someone after they’ve spewed the same fifteen facts eight times in a row, so you have to learn something new. Travel is a great way to learn.
Although it would be awesome to cross an ocean, even the familiar can be new. I try to put myself in situations where I’m not on autopilot. I’ll go somewhere and be around people I’m not used to, smell new smells, taste new tastes. Then I have plenty of new things to draw, and when I come back I see things I was ignoring at home!
So if you feel like you’ve drawn everything in the universe and there’s nothing left for you to draw, you’re wrong. There’s so much stuff on planet Earth, and so much is happening to that stuff all the time. It’s great and horrible and amazing and it begs to be put down on paper.
Whether it’s for a weekend or a month, get on a bike or a bus or a plane, shake the cobwebs out of your eyes, and draw!
To those out there who use art to express your feelings: do you ever find yourself artistically “stuck” because you’re caught in an emotional loop? What do you do to break out of a repetitive emotional cycle?
2 thoughts on “Travel”
I often find myself trying to draw my current negative emotions and feelings on paper, in a feeble attempt to get them out of my system. The results are always unpleasant to look at, where in the worst case scenario they look like awkward and pathetic attention-seeking cries for help, or so I see them afterwards anyway. I’ve learned to keep those though, and to analyze and try to learn from them once the initial emotion isn’t as strong.
As for breaking out of loops, I find mechanical life sketching most helpful. Monkey see, monkey draw: be it my legs sticking from underneath the sketchbook, a funky old lady at the bus stop or a picturesquely piled up bundle of laundry in the corner. Can’t say I ever felt like I drew everything there was to draw though… and now I’m not sure I even answered your question.
The results of frustration are rarely positive, but sometimes the inhibition of a bad mood can free up line work in ways I’m not otherwise capable of. Funky old ladies are great subjects! I aspire to be one someday.